Consultation on gluten-free prescribing closes soon

The local NHS’ public consultation on the future of gluten-free food on prescription ends on 30 September.

People have still got chance to give their views on a range of options put forward by NHS Bradford City and NHS Bradford Districts clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

The consultation, which started in July, has involved a conversation with patients, carers and the wider public about whether gluten-free foods should be provided on prescription.

The CCGs have received excellent feedback online, through the post and at meetings held to discuss the proposals. A wide range of people, including many living with coeliac disease, have given their views.

People can have their say, up to 30 September, by:

For more than 30 years, the NHS has prescribed gluten-free foods like bread, flour, cereal and pasta for people with coeliac disease. This policy was created at a time when gluten-free foods were not as readily available as they are today. In recent years, the range of gluten-free products has increased dramatically, with most supermarkets now stocking a wide range of these items.

However, the NHS is still spending £25m a year to provide gluten-free products on prescription. In Bradford, the total annual spend is around £320,000. With an increasing demand for services, coupled with financial constraints, the NHS must look at all the products and services and make decisions about what services to expand and what to reduce.

As a result, the Bradford CCGs are looking at a range of options, including no longer providing gluten-free foods on a prescription basis.

The CCGs are reviewing the gluten-free policy as part of an overall NHS programme known as QIPP – quality, innovation, productivity and prevention – which is all about making sure that each pound spent brings maximum benefit and quality of care to patients.

It will improve the quality of care the NHS delivers while making around £13m of efficiency savings in Bradford in 2016/17.The CCGs are looking at guidance about best practice and improvements in patient pathways to make changes that will improve the experience for patients, but also release savings.